They do It for the kids

Published 6:40 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2022

So often I have the joy of interviewing people who are doing good things in their communities. My favorite question to ask them is, “What is your why?”

This question focuses on learning why people choose intentional actions and activities which make a difference, actions usually aimed at helping a target group of people.

Lately, many have answered with the same response, “I do it for the kids.”

Each time I hear those words, they warm my heart.

I think of Sylvia Askew, owner of Sylvia’s Produce in Lapine, who decorates the exterior of her store and plans free events for every major holiday.

When I asked her why she assembles such elaborate displays she said, “I do it for the kids.”

And I think of Fort Deposit Police Department Lt. Randell Johnson, who moved to Fort Deposit, joined the small-town police force, and intentionally sought out contact with kids and teens, to let them see a positive role model and show them someone cares.

He does it for the kids.

I also think of Lowndes County native Shernovius Bennett who, together with his mother Lisa McDay, offers Lowndes County high school seniors scholarships in order to connect with and mentor the students, and guide them towards mentoring students who come along behind them.

They do it for the kids. They do it to give them insights and opportunities which aren’t always available to young people in rural communities.

I grew up in rural communities and so did my daughters. My granddaughter lives in one, too.

I’ve seen firsthand how limited perspectives can minimize our view of the world and our hopes of achieving our God-given, uniquely crafted potential. Without adults willing to bridge the gap and offer a glimpse of broader visions, rural kids and teens can sometimes find themselves unable to dream the dream.

Talking to these individuals who steadily pour themselves into the lives of youngsters encourages me. Instead of feeling sad over the lack of opportunities, I feel hopeful those who follow us are catching visions beyond their own neighborhoods, that they are not limited by the lack of urban development because people are choosing to give back, to make a difference.

I’m excited to know Kelvin and Marilyn Lawrence are hiring and mentoring high school students in their Hayneville Subway restaurant.

I’m over the moon to learn that Imago Dei Church at the 45 has a vision to build a facility where they can employ teenagers to help conduct children’s programs.

Talking to these people inspires me to do more. I find myself looking for more ways to mentor young women so they can give back, too.

Everyone has a gift they can share with someone else, who can share that with someone else, and collectively become the change we want to see as our individual gifts are paid forward.

When we do it for the kids, or any other group who needs what we can offer, we cannot fail to make the world a better place; just like Sylvia, Shernovius, Lisa, Kelvin, Marilyn, and the many others in our community who poured themselves into our lives and the lives of others who need their mentoring.